When the media assembled around Frank Mason postgame, he looked up and wondered if everyone holding a microphone had made a mistake. He asked if reporters were sure they were looking for him and not fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox.
Well, there were plenty of reasons to chat with Mason and Fox on Monday night.
The Kings invested two draft picks in point guards in June and both were as advertised in Sacramento’s 106-100 preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center.
Fox is fast – very fast. Mason is tough – very tough. Neither of these facts are secrets, but it was the first time they’d shown off these traits at Golden 1, and the results were encouraging.
Fox, whose game matches his exuberant personality, had 16 points, missing just one of his eight attempted field goals. Mason, the more understated of the two, had 17 points and a team-high six rebounds despite being the shortest King.
Fox showcased his speed and craftiness around the rim to finish in the paint. And if his teammates don’t run with him, they’ll find themselves watching Fox do a lot of that.
“I thought De’Aaron kind of exploded into the lane at different times,” said Kings coach Dave Joerger. “And guys have to learn. I’m half-hoarse because I’m yelling at guys to run and you should want to run. You play with a guy that fast and how we’d like to play, we’d like to get the ball up and down the floor.”
Fox came off the bench Monday, something he’s never done before. He said it was Skal Labissiere who advised him on how to study the flow of the game to be ready once he stepped on the court. Fox looked comfortable attacking in the open court and showed he could be nifty in getting his shot off.
“The way we play, the way our offense is, is to get me downhill,” Fox said. “... Just let me get downhill and let us create.”
Where Fox is loquacious, Mason is much more laid back in discussing his game.
“I think I was solid,” Mason said. “I really don’t like to talk about myself, it’s all about the team.”
It’s easy to see why Mason was one of the best leaders and players in college basketball last season at Kansas. He never seems bothered and by his reaction to media attention Monday night, seems more comfortable letting Fox have the cameras.
But there’s no denying there’s a grittiness to Mason. That’s how he managed six rebounds.
“I love to rebound,” said Mason, who’s listed at 5-foot-11. “As a little guard I kind of get to sneak in there and rebound, but I’d rather have more assists than rebounds.”
The minutes at point guard might be hard to come by during the regular season between George Hill, Fox and Mason. But like another short guard the Kings drafted in 2011, Isaiah Thomas, Mason’s toughness has gotten him this far, so it would not be wise to deny him now.
“Frank’s got guts,” Joerger said. “And that’ll translate over everything.”
Veteran example – Joerger started Hill, Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos on Monday.
Those are his five most experienced players and they set an example for their younger teammates, tallying seven of the team’s 17 assists between them. Hill led the Kings with five assists.
The Kings want to play fast and they scored 32 points in the first quarter, when the “old” guys were on the floor. They never scored more than 26 in a quarter after that.
The starting five only played in the first quarter.